Death of an ETS

The ETS Amendment Bill went through the House Thursday afternoon, at the end of the 3rd reading.

The NZ Parliament, I said, was enacting an iniquity.  With a bare majority, it was amending the ETS and guaranteeing dangerous climate change.

I levelled the charge of moral ecocide at two Government leaders – John Key and Tim Groser.  I made it clear, carefully, that this is not a legal crime in New Zealand but rather a political crime of the highest moral order.

The response form National MPs was predictable; in fact after enough time in the House one can write the script.

Dr Nick Smith gave the most earnest and rational response, as usual. Such a charge, from me, could only damage the environmental movement, it being a gross exaggeration to talk of hell on Earth in the next few decades when the global temperature would rise by only 0.3°C.

Maggie Barry offered the insightful contribution that such a charge came from La-la Land.  David Bennett contented himself with the repetitious statement of belief that I had never done a day’s work in my life.

Ecocide, any large-scale destruction of the natural environment, is a legal crime in some 20 countries, not yet in New Zealand or international law.

My contention is that, if our national leaders consciously craft legislation which they know will almost certainly result in increased emissions at a time when the scientific findings portend dangerous climate change, their action meets that definition.

While they may not, as individuals, be legally liable for actions that cause non-specific damage to humanity as a whole and those consequences are not individually-specific, they nonetheless are accountable in political morality.

If Messrs Key and Groser can produce a pathway for New Zealand’s emission reductions that credibly shows how its own national target of 10%-20% off 1990 can be achieved by 2020, I shall respectfully withdraw the charge.  But notwithstanding two specific requests to the Minister in the Committee to produce that, Mr Groser sat slumped next to the chairman, said nothing, chose not to speak at any stage, and left the chamber – the walking personification of democracy in New Zealand…

Dr Smith effectively counter-argued on the basis of the relative merits, rather than the absolute argument. If global temperature rise is ‘only’ 0.3 degrees over a decade or two, the fact remains that the long-term (half-a-century to a century – i.e. some more decades within the lifetime of today’s youth) is on track to 1.0 – 6.0°C.  So if it is a few more decades than the next two, the difference is marginal, not qualitative. So the charge remains.

The Bill went through, 61 to 58 votes.  The weakening of the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme will become law very soon – what Minister Groser lovingly describes as his ‘Rolls Royce’ model.

62 thoughts on “Death of an ETS

  1. Remind me again why New Zealand should flagellate itself, and its economy, with a wide-ranging ETS while the rest of the world virtually does nothing. I know its warm and fuzzy to be “leaders” but it doesn’t help pay the bills.

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  2. Ecocide, any large-scale destruction of the natural environment, is a legal crime in some 20 countries, not yet in New Zealand or international law.

    You can do something about that, at least in regards to New Zealand. Member’s Bill?

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  3. You don’t think “ecocide” is rather hysterical? Where’s the evidence an ETS will save us from “hell”?

    If people are to take us seriously, we need less of the religious hysterics, more science.

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  4. How much science do you need Arana, there’s bucket loads! Scientists tend to be conservative in their predictions and the current rate of environmental decline keeps exceeding those predictions. In actual fact it will be a combination of ecocide and genocide (if you count human casualties from flooding and rising temperatures).

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/08/12624445-us-heat-wave-eases-but-death-toll-rises?lite
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/bangladesh-flash-floods-wet-season_n_1630925.html

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  5. Sadly, I can only agree that the present government is “committing us to purgatory and thence to hell. Purgatory is the next decade, and hell the decade after.” This is no exaggeration, and “ecocide” is accurate because of the many species that will be exterminated as a result.

    Having an ETS is not nearly enough to save us from hell, but scrapping it is akin to throwing diesel on a house fire. What we need is something much more radical, a carbon charge regime that provides a strong incentive to rapidly reduce all climate changing emissions, something like the “fee and dividend” they have in British Columbia (Canada).

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  6. How much science do you need Arana, there’s bucket loads!

    I don’t need any hell and damnation religion. I’m quite sure no one else does, either.

    This type of message doesn’t work on anyone apart from the converts. It doesn’t work for the Jehovah’s Witness, and it won’t work for us.

    Stick to the positive, fun and constructive messages.

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  7. Too true Sprout but Arana does have a point about the ETS. It is doing pretty much what I expected, which is stuff-all. For it to have a proper effect the CO2 price would have to be more like $230 than $23 or less… and it would have to be paid by the emitters.

    OTOH Arana, doing nothing (BAU) guarantees failure. One can try and fail.. but failing to try is a moral failure and guarantees the resulting damage, precisely as Dr Graham is pointing out.

    There is plenty of science now. Pretty much a quarter of a century of unbroken bad news getting worse. I worked at JPL next to some of the guys doing work on the Greenland Ice Sheet for a longish time. I know some of them. There is a nearly unprecedented agreement in all the disparate methods and measurements… we’re fncking our future… and the free ride is ending. In 10 years it’s going to be bad. In 20? Hell yes… in terms of what our civilization was built on we’re going to be in FAR too deep.

    Would be nice if some of the fools who are arguing for a this could be alive then, because by that time it WILL be a crime and they WILL be able to be prosecuted. Won’t help much THEN though. At that point we’ll have bought a plus 4-5 degree change. Unthinkable levels of warming… if civilization manages any continuity over the next 3 centuries it will be in colonies on newly available land opening up in the Antarctic.

    Idiots.

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  8. Arana – Consider that this message is addressed to US, not to people we want to “convert”.

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  9. @Arana- “If people are to take us seriously”.
    Which “us” are you referring to? This is a Green party site and I, like most other Green party members I expect, take Kennedy Graham very seriously. It is a tragedy for our children that the government doesn’t.

    There is nothing hysterical about the term ecocide (other than that it refers to destroying ecosystems, which is something any sane person would have an emotional reaction to)

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  10. I am not that upset. The ETS is just another way of the finance/speculation industry monetising and profiting from potential disaster. It has not materially effected real AGW gas production anywhere in the world.

    Now the way is clear for Greens/Labour, to introduce the tax and dividend scheme we should have had in the first place.

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  11. It would seem we are diverging from Australia on this.

    It was once said we would be a fast follower, and that we would work with Australia in harmonising the tax/regulatory regime for our two economies.

    The Oz government is willing to move onto the second stage of Kyoto. Australia is our largest trading partner and we have a comprehensive free trade arrangement with them.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20263665

    I tend to favour a carbon/methane tax – but only applying it where the level exceeds best practice (this diminishes impact on grassland farming), a bit like progressive taxation. I would like to see a campaign to bring this concept to taxation of all tradeable goods (under WTO). We need to end the transfer of production from first world nations operating under Kyoto to those nations that use carbon. Kyoto should not be so perverse as to lead to greater pollution in the production of goods for the western (Kyoto nation) markets.

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  12. SPC, we’ve well and truly lost our purity!
    http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/00-down-gurgler.html

    Here’s a positive message for you Arana, at least we live in New Zealand and not Europe, the US, Bangladesh or the small pacific islands where the effects of climate change is already having a more dramatic effect.

    Religion, Arana? Good grief, you said you wanted science why don’t you actually read it! http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2011/05/gore-hosts-hansen.html

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  13. There is nothing hysterical about the term ecocide (other than that it refers to destroying ecosystems, which is something any sane person would have an emotional reaction to)

    Yes, it hysterical. It’s like “genocide”, only with the term “eco”, somewhat redundantly, stuck in front of it.

    If we don’t add to this farce of an ETS – which was never going to work anyway – we’re committing ecocide and damning our kids to hell? Really? That’s just very, very silly.

    This hell and damnation talk would even make a Republican blush.

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  14. Here’s a positive message for you Arana, at least we live in New Zealand and not Europe, the US, Bangladesh or the small pacific islands where the effects of climate change is already having a more dramatic effect.

    Climate always changes and thank goodness. I don’t much fancy remaining trapped under a mile of ice.

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  15. Arana. In your 1st comment you said “if people are going to take us seriously” and “we need”. You ignored my question as to who you mean by us. It reads as if you want to be thought of as a green who is concerned that we are not getting the message out to the general public in the right way, but from your other comments I suspect this not so. It appears you do not get the point about ecocide and hysteria. Hysterical means emotional and if you do not have an emotional reaction to the destruction of ecosystems then there’s something wrong with you.

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  16. and if you do not have an emotional reaction to the destruction of ecosystems then there’s something wrong with you.

    You’re arguing a straw man. Stick to the topic, please.

    Changes to the ETS will not guarantee dangerous climate change or result in ecocide. That is hysterical nonsense.

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  17. The changes to the ETS will bring forward the day when there is not a mile of ice anywhere on the planet and the Waikato is a shallow sea surrounded by islands… The fact that it is less effective than a Carbon Tax and Dividend proposal was always clear. It was what we could get, not what we wanted. The real price of carbon emissions is higher than what it is now by a factor of more than 10.

    It is time we abandoned the farce. The banks and the industrial community have no intention of having an honest market for the carbon credits and so there is in fact no point. We have to level a direct tax, and force them to take seriously the threat to our future that they are creating. No more fucking around. We know it works because Sweden did it. We know we can do it because we’re already 70% renewable… and anything else IS ecocide.

    Yet the changes to the “meaningless” ETS are not without meaning. They are a clear indication of the intentions of this government… to balance the books at the expense of future generations. The opening of drilling for oil offshore is similarly meaningful, even if it does not result in any oil.

    The wasting of time and money on this rubbish when the real measures necessary to reduce our trade deficit and sustain our society remain undone and unthinkable for the ideologues running the country, is fundamentally treasonous.

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  18. Thank God that’s the end of Kyoto. More tax on the end-consumers for a non-proven phenomenon.
    It’s like being forced to go to church and having to pay for the privilege against your will.
    Best focus your efforts on observable conservation crimes like water pollution than the airy fairy concept of ‘climate change’.

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  19. Thing is Arana… MY meaning is that a $230 per tonne TAX is put on the stuff, and we pay it back to people as a dividend. The ETS was what we could get. Next time around I don’t think we’re going to settle for half-measures. Nor do I think we’re going to have to.

    A good effort by government COULD make an ETS effective… no effort no effect. That’s a given. Tax is easier. Mechanisms already exist. No need to track where carbon “credits” exist, there are none. Be good to reward people for growing trees that way but it’s not going to work with jackasses like Key in charge of things… so we can’t risk it.

    Somehow I don’t think you mean it that way. :-)

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  20. I don’t think you got the emotion part that I am feeling either.

    It is called rage.

    I call what is being done treason.

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  21. Not prepared to answer my question I see Arana. You start off with a comment about “us” being taken seriously, but you are not one of us greenie types are you? More the troll type

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  22. The actions of Groser et.al. with respect to Kyoto have already been noted with glee internationally. The denialists taking unholy delight in the defection of New Zealand from any sort of commitment to do anything.

    The treason continues.

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  23. Firstly, ECOCIDE is an impossible concept as long as there is an ecology which means as long as the earth exists. Granted it will not be anything like the one we currently have, but that is nothing like the one that the dinasaurs lived in. Ecologies change and adapt, so let’s get just a little calmer and take away the crass use of emotional pressure to gain supporters for change.

    Part of the challenge faced by today’s civilisation is understanding what impact the decisions we make in our little local governance arenas will have on the type of future civilisations that are possible. To attempt to revert the current ecology back to that which existed in the past is to attempt to herd cats. The change has been made, and we cannot remove from our civilisation the things that have built it, like the internal combustion engine, electricity, reticulation of desirable sunstances, mass production, etc.. We CAN replace their current incarnations with ones which do no more harm to the ecology – not an easy challenge, but one for which the human mind, when properly freed, is prepared, just look at how far we’ve come already!

    To my mind, obstructionism and reversion are strategies doomed to failure because they do not build on what we have already achieved, but rather seek to remove it. Should we look to manufacture in orbit? – Why not? Should we attempt a means to convert Carbon dioxide to oxygen and fuel? – Why not? Should we limit the growth of the human herd to conserve resources – only if you can make it a global limit not a “them not us” issue. There are an infinte number of choices, decisions and innovations to be achieved if the human race is to win its race, and it will take far more than anger, passion and ridicule to reach the podium, but by moving forward, not back, we should be ale to do it.

    So. Ask not how I can reduce my carbondioxide emissions to prior levels, ask rather how that carbondioxide can be converted to something of use and value to humanity. When we ask the right question, we (humanity,) somehow seem to come up with an answer.

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  24. dave – do not confuse the method and the outcome. Cars are a desirable means to achieve rapid point to point transfer of people with minimum lead time. Internal combustion engines are a means to propel cars. Neither are the actual outcomes being sought. A fleet of rapidly dispatched automatic battery powered taxis could achieve nearly the same outcome.

    Similarly CO2 is only a useful resource when it is concentrated. CO2 emissions from vehicles aren’t concentrated, so rather than looking for a use for the CO2, we are better off looking for alternative means of propelling those vehicles. However we should start with the easy wins, such as wind farms and solar power for electricity generation and hot water.

    What I find frustrating is that there are consented wind farms and geothermal power stations that are not proceeding to construction (yet) because the power companies believe that it is more cost-effective for them to continue burning cheap gas. Yet we all know that the cheap gas will run out.

    Trevor.

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  25. Excuse me Dave, but I reserve the right to be angry about the destruction of ecosystems. By your logic genocide doesn’t exist because there are still people on the planet. As for your suggestion that we attempt to convert CO2 to oxygen and fuel and manufacture things in orbit, well I enjoy science fiction too

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  26. trev

    A fleet of rapidly dispatched automatic battery powered taxis could achieve nearly the same outcome.

    They would indeed. Now, how are we going to generate the dozens of petajules of power required to replace the current importation of energy as oil?

    Viv

    I reserve the right to be angry about the destruction of ecosystems.

    Quite right too, you can be as angry as you like, it won’t change anything. Also, the destruction of one or more ecosystems is not the same as ecocide, in the same way as the destruction of one genotype (lets say for instance the Scots) would not equate to the death of every human being. When you talk about reasonable scales, as opposed to unviable scales, people are able to relate to what you say, otherwise, using unbelievable hyperbole, you do the green movement no favours and add to the voracity of many labels that are attached to its followers.

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  27. Trev.
    Keep defining the problem mate, once you ask ALL the right questions we can get on with answering them. Step one – how do we identify, gather and concentrate the excess carbondioxide in the earth’s gravity keep?

    Viv
    My SciFi collection has been valued at tens of thousands of dollars :-) One thing I love about the stuff from 50 years ago is how much of it has come to be science fact rather than fiction. Just a simple example, being able to measure the impacts on ecosystems of human progress was first ridiculed after being published by E.E. (Doc) Smith in one of his ‘Skylark’ stories. Just think too of dear Mr. Asimov’s coining of the word robotics and the progress in that science made since then.

    Happy daze.

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  28. using unbelievable hyperbole, you do the green movement no favours and add to the voracity of many labels that are attached to its followers.

    This.

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  29. I compare the language used by you, Arana, and that of Kennedy Graham. Yours is prosaic and uninspiring, his soaring and inspirational. You say hyperbole, I say you mistake Kennedy’s genuine abhorrence of the actions of those like Key and Groser who condemn future generations to climate extremes. For an apologist for the deniers like you to criticize the temperature of the plea of a fully informed politician like Kennedy, is pathetic and deserving of scorn. You can have mine for nothing.

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  30. I’m sure the god-botherers in the US feel the same way when gay rights are upheld. Epic doom and damnation hyperbole.

    They love that laughable stuff.

    And, sadly, so do you.

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  31. I compare the language used by you, Arana, and that of Kennedy Graham. Yours is prosaic and uninspiring, his soaring and inspirational.

    I couldn’t watch the whole thing because to me, he sounded like a self righteous lunatic.

    I had to turn it off because I was actually having flash backs of church!

    Telling people they are going to hell seems to only attract a certain type of ‘believer’.

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  32. Blah, blah, blah.

    In 2008, in this blog, I noted:

    Yeah, right.

    Quoting again, “or through an ETS as the Greens have reluctantly signed on to”

    And there you go. You may remember that I recently accused the Green Party of being so desperate to get any green-tinted legislation through the Beehive that they would back anything, no matter had bad. And there is your confirmation. You know ETS is fundamentally wrong, yet you still continue to back it.

    We need to reduce emissions. But any scheme that merely legitimises the existing (and future) emissions by a simple process of taxation is doomed to failure. The reason is because taxation keeps the playing field level. It raises costs across the board, so to the person being taxed, all options are the same.

    The need is to start tackling emissions directly, not indirectly.

    And a couple of years later:

    A fallacy,, for more than the reasons I gave.

    For a price signal to work, it has to hurt, and all that happens when you charge pollutors in a non-compretitive marketplace is that they pass the costs on and don’t change their behaviour. In effect, the charge is legitimising their polluting activity. “We’re paying for it, so its OK”.

    Whereas in reality the end consumer is paying for it, the pollutor thus feels no pain, and thus they carry on as normal. And not only that, the entire supply chain benefits from that increased cost.

    Rather than trying to use price signals to modify pollutor behaviour, I would argue that we should use direct legislative measures. Tackle the problem, not a derivitive of the problem.

    The same logic is why the ETS is a failure, it legitimises emissions, passing the costs (and the embedded profits) of emissions charges straight onto the end consumer.

    The only place I think that price signals have a chance of working is if the tax (pollution, emission, whatever) is levied on the business owner(s). That cost will then be part of the investment decisions made by shareholders, and they’ll soon turn away from lower returning investments. With the suggested schemes shareholders benefit from extra costs, as extra pass-onable costs mean extra profit means better shareholder returns.

    Still need to have a rethink, and an ETS still isn’t the right answer.

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  33. Dave – I have no notion of the value of my own collection, but it is deep and massive and I’ve probably read most of what you’ve got (as you’ve read of mine)… but we cannot count on the “escape clause” of Cheap Access To Space making a timely arrival.

    Which leaves us with the world AND the civilization we have… if we can keep them. On current form we are annihilating every chance that future civilization will maintain the continuity of knowledge and culture necessary to sustain a fraction of us. I choose to call that “ecocide” I find that it enrages me, and I don’t think that there is an excuse for it.

    For THIS country, the efficiency of transport and supply of electricity is fairly reasonable. Our population is small enough and our supply of energy large enough that we could make it to 100% renewables without the massive strain that it would impose on a China or a USA.

    Not EASY, but definitely possible.

    … and there is a difference here, between the belief in hell and the belief in the warming that is going to bring our civilization down… one is grounded in and solidly supported by science.

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  34. Shunda – I pity you for your scorched ears that prevent you hearing anything but the echoes of your own past experiences. With my clean set, I was able to understand what Kennedy meant.

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  35. dave – dozens of petajoules sounds like a lot, but 1 PJ is the energy generated by only 32 MW of say geothermal plant run continuously over a year, or one year’s output of an 80MW wind farm with a 40% capacity factor. We can add enough wind and geothermal plant to meet that demand, and we can add solar water heating to cut down on our domestic gas and electricity use. If we find that that isn’t enough, we can add solar photovoltaic panels to our roofs, and look at wave powered generation.

    And as to how to identify, concentrate and gather the excess CO2 – well plants do a good job of that for us. We just need to gather them up before they decay back into CO2 or methane.

    Trevor.

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  36. Shunda – I pity you for your scorched ears that prevent you hearing anything but the echoes of your own past experiences.

    Scorched? more likely as finely tuned as bat zeroing in on a bug in the pitch black!
    My ears are so cunning you could pin tails on them and call them a pair of weasels!

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  37. That’s you?
    Your hair-colour doesn’t match your fur.
    I didn’t pick you as a dyer.

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  38. Yahooo.. some passionate debate !

    my 5c worth :
    This Govt. is just following the Neo-liberal world-wide agenda.. ‘the world is just a pile of resources to be exploited at any cost’ unfortunately when vast areas of land are underwater & the air is so polluted you all need a gasmask to breath & the only water that can be drunk costs more than gold.. maybe they may actually realise.. they are WRONG !!
    The earth is a living system & the more WE poison it, the closer it is to DEATH (we all with it)

    Kia-ora Greens

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  39. Trevor
    we used (back in ’07) 160 petajoules PER PERSON, with circe 18% being imported. THat makes some 115 MILLION petajoules of energy we would have to replace. If Just one third of that is consumed as power for motor vehicles, then we would need some FORTY EIGHT MILLION NEW 80MW wind farms. With the way NIMBY’s like to try to ensure we don’t build ANY new Generation capability, I think it will be a cold day in hell befor we can aspire to such a building programme.

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  40. dave – 160 PJ per person per year is just plain wrong. I have no idea where you might have obtained that figure but it is out by orders of magnitude. I could believe 160PJ for the entire country, but not per person. Just think how many tonnes of oil 18% of that would be and you might realise that the figure just can’t be right.

    I might try finding a more sensible figure.

    Trevor.

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  41. Found something – The New Zealand Energy Quarterly for September 2010 (from http://www.med.govt.nz) states that just over 60PJ of crude and refined oil was imported in the September 2010 quarter with a few more PJ of local production added in. A bit higher than I guessed but still only about 1 millionth of dave’s figure.

    Trevor.

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  42. Firstly, ECOCIDE is an impossible concept as long as there is an ecology which means as long as the earth exists.

    I use that word a bit differently, because the nonsense meaning is not helpful but ecological genocide or suicide is more than possible… on current form it is almost guaranteed. We as a species are building our own gas chamber and preparing the pellets to drop.

    We are quite capable of it. Doing it ecologically or doing it by global thermonuclear war, or doing it by releasing some bioweapon or omnivorous nanite. We are certainly more than able.

    Moreover, I regard the survival of “some” environment without human civilization as being completely pointless. I work for the human species and the survival of intelligent life in the universe (if that is not, as I often think it is, a contradiction in terms) :-) … so I don’t worry about spotted owls or albino newts directly.

    However, when I observe what we are doing to ourselves? Ecocide is a very apt term. It captures the intensity of the problem we are creating for our children, and the criminal nature of the people who continue to pursue BAU in this environment.

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  43. The motor racing industry are finally reacting to peak oil and climate change, by introducing a Formula E concept – E for electric! Hopefully this will help develop electric car technology.

    Trevor.

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  44. dave – I followed your link but I don’t see any measures in PJ, let alone any claim that the per-capita energy consumption is 160PJ per person per year.

    Trevor.

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  45. dave – apology accepted. However you still have it wrong. Your last link gives 183.9 GJ per person per year, so that is GigaJoules not MegaJoules – a factor of 1000 different. Personally I don’t like to think in terms of Joules over periods of a year as the numbers get very large. Thanks for that link by the way.

    The next column gives 5831 Watts as the average rate of energy consumption per person. This is a conveniently sized unit. If we look ahead a few years, we might have a population of 5 million and an average energy consumption rate of 6kW, requiring 30GW of power (all kinds, not just electricity) for the country – less if we can be more economical in our use. This can be supplied by renewable resources, but it won’t be easy. We have around 2-3GW of economical, available geothermal resource and we already have around 3GW of hydro resource (remember these values are averaged over a complete year or longer, not peak values). We have around 10GW of economical wind resource, possibly more, but only a small fraction of this is being harnessed. Biomass is already part of our mix and could be expanded, but its main role may well be for conversion into transport fuels. We have a world-class wave resource which we have only just started to tap. And of course we have sunlight – good for water heating and electricity generation.

    We need to make a start, and an obvious place to start is to cut down on our use of gas and coal for electricity generation and increase our use of wind and geothermal – yet this isn’t happening because the coal and gas are too cheap.

    Trevor.

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  46. Oops – missed a word. That should read:
    “we already have harnessed around 3GW of hydro resource”

    Trevor.

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  47. If we don’t start getting serious about climate change, it will change into something much more serious. Predictions include a 4 degree rise, possibly as soon as 2060, along with increased heatwaves, droughts, storms, floods, crop failures, sea level rises…

    Add to this shortages of oil and other limited resources, and our children’s misery may be complete.

    Trevor.

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  48. Totally correct. And stationary power generation is, for New Zealand at least, low hanging fruit.

    100% renewable electricity generation is a goal that we could do relatively easily.
    It would even pay for itself with the reduction in our oil and gas bill.

    Transport is a harder nut to crack, but electrifying all of our rail and stopping the subsidies to trucking would be good start.

    It is not enough to say what New Zealand does will make little difference. It has to start somewhere, and all the little differences will add up..
    And help our moral persuasion in international forums if we are doing our bit.

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  49. Kerry – if we cut back on our use of natural gas for water heating, space heating and electricity generation, we will have plenty for powering our vehicle fleet. Petrol vehicles can be converted to run on natural gas. If necessary, natural gas can be converted into other fuels such as methanol. Long term, if we don’t have enough natural gas, we can create more from biomass digestors.

    But the low hanging fruit is electricity generation, as you say. Cutting back on our coal imports would help our balance of payments too. (Low grade coal is imported for electricity generation so we can export high grade coal.)

    Trevor.

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  50. LNG is liguified natural gas, and this is becoming an attractive option for fuelling ships – most commonly LNG carriers, but also an increasing range of other shipping including ferries. New Zealand could develop facilities for producing LNG but this could have unexpected consequences – LNG could then be exported, driving up our gas prices into line with overseas prices. This may or may not be good for the country, but it could directly help our balance of payments.

    Not importing bunker fuel would also be good for our balance of payments.

    Trevor.

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  51. Trevor.

    Agree with you on both counts.

    Substituting renewable electricity where possible and only using gas or oil where we still have to is a good step towards a more sustainable economy.

    From a pure balance of payments point of view it is economic to export gas and light crude and continue to import bunker fuel as HFO is worth about a third of the amount we get for gas.

    From an AGW prevention view we are better to use the gas directly. It is a more efficient and lower polluting fuel than HFO.

    NZ is also in a position where bio-fuels may substitute for some of our fuel use.
    For example. Using waste biomass from forestry can power that industry totally. And give them some to sell back. It was one of my environmental technology projects at Waikato. Using waste wood for kilns etc is cheaper for them than using mains power. They already have the waste on site.
    The experiments with sewer gas and algae grown in sewage plants looked promising.

    If the same amount that we spend on oil exploration was spent on renewables we would be making big strides by now.

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  52. Kerry

    I agree with most of what you are saying. It certainly makes sense using waste wood if it is available. However there may be better uses than just burning it where it is.

    Burning wood and other waste for electricity generation has the advantage shared by burning coal of being despatchable, i.e. it can generate electricity when other supplies don’t meet the demand, such as in the middle of winter in a “dry” year. (I realise that thermal plants can’t be ramped up and down quickly, so I am talking base-load here.) Therefore stockpiling it at Huntly could be an option.

    A better option may be to use the waste wood as feedstock for petrochemical plants. With extra power from wind, wave or solar generation to provide hydrogen, biomass such as wood can be turned into a range of fuels including hydrocarbons and alcohols. These products may become raw materials for further processing, or they could be transport fuels for applications where electric vehicles aren’t an option. (Planes and ships come to mind here.)

    Industrial applications that require low grade heat may be better off tapping into geothermal sources.

    Another process that could use biomass is steel production, if the biomass can be converted into charcoal.

    Trevor.

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  53. BJ says “…and the Waikato is a shallow sea surrounded by islands…..

    Wow – that sounds like a fantastic improvement. Is there any way we can speed this up?

    Don’t stop at Hamilton though. If we try hard we could do the same with Invercargill, South Dunedin, Lower Hutt….do you think Palmerston North is a too far inland ???

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